Sparks have more fun ''musically'' now than they did in their heyday.

The pop rock duo - comprised of brothers Ron and Russell Mael - returned to the UK top 10 last year with their 23rd album, 'Hippopotamus', which entered the chart at number seven.

Keyboard player Ron says that on reflection the 'This Town Ain't Big Enough For the Both Of Us' hitmakers prefer the music they are making now than in the 70s.

In an interview with The Times newspaper, he admitted: ''I can't say it wasn't fun in the 70s having screaming people in the audience.

''Musically, though, it is more fun now. The fact we are still here, it's beyond surreal.''

The pair will head back into the studio after they complete their current UK tour, which concludes at Bournemouth's International Centre on May 28, to work on their 24th record, and Russell admits it will be hard work topping their last album.

He said: ''When you have done something that was really well received, it's a challenge to follow it up.''

However, Ron insists that they no longer mark their success on chart positions.

Joking about not having to return to his former employment as a record label delivery boy for a liquor company in a while, he said: ''Well, I haven't been a delivery boy for quite a long time.

''And in some ways the situation is quite liberating.

''Because when the do-or-die about something being a hit single is gone then it isn't chart weekend that will decide whether your career is happening or not.''

Before releasing their album, 'No. 1 in Heaven', in 1979 in collaboration with disco producer, Giorgio Moroder - who is renowned for his work for the likes of Kylie Minogue, Donna Summer and Britney Spears - which saw them head in a synth-pop direction, Sparks came close to giving up on music.

Their record prior to that in 1977, 'Introducing Sparks, was a commercial failure and panned by critics, however, they don't let stuff like that worry them now.

Ron said: ''We had never had that sort of success, admiration, adulation.

''So when that cools off a bit you think, 'is that it? Is that us over?'

''Now we don't worry about little nicks that happen along the way.

''We feel we can fight through them, but at the start you don't know what the story is going to be.''